“Times were when the internet changed slow, like a herd of big horns movin’ lazy-like across the open prairie. Ah, those were the days.
I remember, and I bet you do to: All the way back in, oh, ’97, ’98.
We didn’t have no Java Script back then. We had HTML1. And we liked it! Rich folks had CSS2 and thanked their luck stars!
Well, not any more. Boy, I’ll tell you, not no more.”
Whoa. I’m reluctantly pulling myself out of that old cowhand persona ONLY because I promised myself I’d make this brief. We’re continuing with our goal of signing up 100 web hosting or domain management accounts (and donating 100 free accounts to nonprofit partners) and I’ll get a post out soon on that progress. Spoiler alert: It’s actually going pretty well.
But I thought I’d write this post after meeting yesterday an organization that’s been collaborating with Maine Creative for years. They were one of our first clients in 2013 and we still work with them routinely on marketing, communications, design, and web projects. Not to mention we host their four organizational domains.
The executive director gave me some great, much appreciated feedback yesterday when he said that we should be tapping all our web hosting clients to ask about domain management services. He said, essentially, “We want our managers to focus on management, and our social media person to focus on creative projects and outreach. And our web hosting folks, they’re the ones with the skill set and mindset to handle domain management.”
We agree. But coming out of that meeting, I thought that many small business owners and nonprofit directors–hell, most people generally–may not know the difference between domain management and web hosting, or why domain management is important for organizations. So, here goes…
Web hosting is offering server space where the raw data of your website resides. Some hosting services (like our Hosting with Heart program) may also register your domain annual with ICANN or offer other services, like identification protection or installation of SSL certificates.
Domain management is the active maintenance of the website itself. At Maine Creative, that means making sure that your cPanel (the way you can access the back-end of your site) is always running on the latest software, that your cPanel plugins (like phpMyAdmin or mySQL) are all up-to-date, that you aren’t exceeding data or bandwidth limits, and that routine backups of ALL your site data are taking place. About half our client sites run off WordPress, so for us domain management also means updating WordPress software, themes, and plugins, making backups in WordPress, and checking security plugins for any breaches or vulnerabilities.
Okay, onto the crux of this post. If you’ve got a website, excellent! If you’ve got a website and you’re living in 1996, even better! Chances are that that thing isn’t getting hacked and, lucky you!, you don’t have to worry about languages, plugins, or server software being out-of-date for, like, 10 years.
And you may not be alone. Here are five other reasons why you definitely DON’T need domain management:
You love fiddling with cPanels, phpMyAdmin, your server’s Linux software, SQL databases, Horde email accounts, and all the other myriad programs and bits of script that, hidden from 99% of humanity, actual make up all websites. This one really isn’t so much of a joke. The truth is that some people (like Sam, here…) just really like that stuff. And if so, have at! If you’ve got a mind for it, understanding how your cPanel works and making changes (though possibly irreversible) isn’t super tough. But fiddle you better, because cPanel software goes out of date, meaning that it stops being compatible with certain languages and browsers, and can expose your site to hackers. Which leads us to reason two…
- You’re running a charity for dark-web hackers. You generous person, you. The web is more dangerous than ever. That’s not hyperbole, it’s statistics. Even relatively untrafficked sites can be hit with dozens or hundreds of attempted hacks each day. This is what we see when we look at security data from our clients’ sites. Without active domain management, you open yourself up to serious and costly damage. (Just read what happened to one of our clients recently.) And good domain managers aren’t just checking security stats, their proactively protecting domains by changing passwords, installing patches, updating software, and, well, I won’t give away all the secrets.
- You like paying more. Leaving aside that if your site gets hacked you may be paying thousands to get your content restored and your files fixed (yes, seriously) some domain management plans also offer a certain number of hours of monthly edits. Typically, these hours will save you money over reaching out to web designers or your hosting company to make simple edits, updates, or fixes.
- You’ve got Tim. Again, this one isn’t so much of a joke. Some organizations really have a ‘Tim’ (or, whatever, his or her name might be different). Tim’s that guy or gal you call when your screen goes blank, or when you notice that that thing, you know, the thing at the corner of the website, when you first load the page, that thing, well it’s not loading. Tim usually huffs or sighs, but damn if he doesn’t get that thing fixed. Look, if you’ve got a Tim, fair enough, you really don’t need domain management. At least not till Tim’s self-designed crypto currency takes off and he goes sailing around the Med in his mega-yacht.
- You just like that antique, broken look. Hey, it works for some people: kitsch retailers, farm equipment museum curators, haunted house proprietors. Maybe as the software, and the coding languages, and the APIs, and the themes, and plugins all change, and as, one by one, all the elements that you worked meticulously to design and publish to your website start to fail, first acting a little funny and then disappearing altogether, perhaps you’ll welcome this as the inevitable “style” you were always going for. Great, definitely don’t give us a call.
For everyone else, we’ve got tailor-made solutions to match the size, scope, functionality, and audience of your internet properties. Not only that, but we offer discounts for combining hosting and domain management, and all our accounts mean free website hosting or management for a partner nonprofit. Click here to learn more.
Max is the owner of Maine Creative, a Portland-based design and marketing firm, in addition to Intoxicles, a company he started in 2015 that makes cocktail freezer pops. When he’s not hustling, he likes learning, cooking, and hiking with friends. You can contact Max by emailing email@example.com, or find him on Facebook or Instagram.